The House of Representatives has finally passed the Violence Against Women Act. GOP leaders, including Eric Cantor, opposed the Senate’s legislation for months while attempting to pass an alternative legislation that stripped immigrant and American Indian women from the bill’s protections.
The House bill failed in a 166-257 vote; Speaker John Boehner then called the originally-proposed legislation to the floor. VAWA passed 286-138, with 87 Republicans supporting it. The passage of VAWA comes several months after the Senate reauthorized the legislation.
VAWA, which was written by Vice President Joe Biden while he was in the Senate, uses federal funding to create shelters and programs for domestic violence and sexual assault victims among other protections. The new bill includes specific provisions for LGBT, American Indian, and immigrant victims, including access to legal aid. It also addresses stalking and video surveillance in domestic violence cases.
President Obama is expected to sign the bill when it reaches his desk.
Statement from the President on the House Passage of the Violence Against Women Act
I was pleased to see the House of Representatives come together and vote to reauthorize and strengthen the Violence Against Women Act. Over more than two decades, this law has saved countless lives and transformed the way we treat victims of abuse. Today’s vote will go even further by continuing to reduce domestic violence, improving how we treat victims of rape, and extending protections to Native American women and members of the LGBT community. The bill also reauthorizes the Trafficking Victims Protection Act, providing critical support for both international and domestic victims of trafficking and helping ensure traffickers are brought to justice. I want to thank leaders from both parties – especially Leader Pelosi, Congresswoman Gwen Moore and Senator Leahy – for everything they’ve done to make this happen. Renewing this bill is an important step towards making sure no one in America is forced to live in fear, and I look forward to signing it into law as soon as it hits my desk.